Cliff Harris Talks To The Pirates

The music industry was destroyed by piracy in 1999, of course. How we all miss it.

If there’s one name that’s come up each time in RPS’s perennial piracy comment threads, it’s Positech‘s Cliffski. The moniker of PC developer, Cliff Harris, he’s ruffled feathers with, surprisingly, the anti-piracy position. As Kieron mentioned on Sunday, Cliff decided to run a survey via his blog, and then via every other website on the internet, asking people to tell him why they pirate his games. It’s a remarkably modest and reasonable question to ask, and now he’s back with an anecdotal presentation of the results.

Cliff Harris deserves applause for taking this approach. But he deserves carrying aloft the shoulders of those who have loudly disagreed with him in the comments (me included) for his response to his broad survey. He’s changing how he develops games as a consequence.

This graph should frighten off all but the hardiest of pirates.

First of all, he’s ditching DRM. (And the crowds cheered). None for Kudos 2, and he’s removed it from Democracy 2. He’s changing his demos, so they’re “much better, and longer, and will retrospectively change this when I get around to it for some of my older games.” He’s lowering prices, and has lowered the price of Kudos to $10 (a smart promotional move for the forthcoming Kudos 2, of course), and is thinking about lowering future prices. He’s attempting to make it more convenient to buy his games. And most interestingly, he’s found fresh enthusiasm to invest himself into making better games, ignoring the previous demoralising doom of knowing people would pirate his previous hard work.

“I get the impression that if I make Kudos 2 not just lots better than the original, but hugely, overwhelmingly, massively better, well polished, designed and balanced, that a lot of would-be pirates will actually buy it.”

Each of these points could sustain extensive dissection, and inevitably the cursed P-word will ensure that happens below, but I’d like to make a couple of comments. Firstly, I hope that Cliff’s getting rid of DRM might cause ripples. I hope developers notice this, give it some thought. It’s a significant demonstration of respecting people’s rights.

I swear I recognise this artwork froms somewhere...

But I wonder if the decision over lowering prices is correct. Well, that’s not quite right. I think going under the $19.99 will cause his game to stand out. But it doesn’t address the larger issue of that ridiculous price having taken root as the apparent default no matter what shovelware shit is being churned out. This price point has woefully blurred the market, devaluing any sense of what we might be getting for our money. Cliff’s games have tended to score marks in the 70s, sometimes low 80s – a quality where twenty bucks seems very fair. But when every quarter-arsed match-3 or Diner Dash clone gets slapped with the same price, it just seems demeaning that distinct, original gaming needs to undercut it to get bought. Part of me wonders if the solution is to price over those games – indicate that you’re quality, and not a bloody overgrown mini-game – but then maybe that part of me is mad. Clearly the results Cliff received suggested that a huge proportion of those pirating did so because the games were already too expensive for them.

I’d be fascinated to see someone emulate the model a few musicians have tried, letting people name their price (Girl Talk, and the rather weak Radiohead attempt, that they’ve now canned), with advantages for those choosing to pay over a certain amount. I’m not certain Cliffski is in a position to try this, but surely one of the less pisspoor match-3-alikes could give it a go.

Er, I rambled. Go visit Cliff Harris’ results to see his thoughts. And hopefully he’ll soon be putting up some raw data for others to study.


  1. Chris Evans says:

    Well I will declare that by getting rid of DRM Cliffski has done a great thing. I am sure that many big companies think that they have to use DRM to stop pirates, but it won’t. By removing DRM Cliffski has shown that he respects his target audience and is not going to impose bloated, unneeded, unwanted and frankly stupid efforts of DRM on us. For those companies suffering from piracy they have to look at stopping day 0 piracy, i.e. ensure that games aren’t stolen from the printers a-la Assassin’s Creed.

  2. RichPowers says:

    I’m a complete cheapass when it comes to videogames, which is why I’ll rarely buy games for more than $19.99 (Blizz and Valve games being the exception). Paying <$10 means (a) I can't complain about a game being crap (b) I can uninstall a bad game without feeling ripped off. I wonder what's the optimal price point for videogames, considering many of them simply aren't worth $50-60. That being said, if you feel a game is too expensive, WAIT UNTIL THE PRICE DROPS or don't buy it. Kudos to Cliff for removing DRM and taking the time to run this survey.

  3. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I may be wrong, but something just occured to me. Cliff points out how some gamers – understandably – balk at retail prices of $60, and while I have no intention of glorifying piracy, it’s understandable that people would look upon illegal downloads as a means to fight against these prices. That’s all well and good, but I think it misses two points. One, that the costs are not always the studio’s fault, as the current sales model takes much more than the studios’ work in consideration – publishing fees, licensing, and so on.

    Two, pirating games which would cost them $20 is not sending any message whatsoever to publishers who charge $60. In the end, it comes down to people with a misplaced sense of entitlement who believe that pirating *anything* will one day usher us into the magical la-la-land of free games. They end up harming those who actually circumvent the business models they despise because they can’t tell which is which.

    I believe Cliff made some right moves there – the DRM choice is one – but I don’t think price cuts will drastically change things. Even opting for price cuts to garner some more of those who are prone to impulse buying only seems to deal with half of the problem, because, let’s face it, impulse buying isn’t just related to price but also to the offer. If someone actually wants your game, they won’t mind paying $19.99.

    Also, I think Cliff underestimated this part:

    “I do it because I like free stuff and won’t get caught. I’d do the same with anything if I knew I’d get away with it.” This is depressing, but thankfully a small minority.

    It’s a small minory of the people who conversed with him, the latter being also a very small minory of gamers who pirate games. Never underestimate the power of the silent majority.

  4. Calabi says:

    Well if even he’s getting feedback from lots of people saying the general releases are boring and unoriginal their must be something in it.

    By trying to make all these generic games that are all slightly similar, that dont do anything other than appeal to certain markets, they are creating their own huge piracy problem perhaps.

    It appears we have some evidence now, that points to this.

  5. Dinger says:

    Whatever else you can say, it’s a smart PR move by someone whose associated himself so closely with piracy to have a write-in campaign.

    Look, the bulk of pirates ain’t gonna be buying your game. They’ll cook up rationalizations, but that’s the way it is. (And, for the record, when I tell you that copyright infringement is not theft, that’s not a rationalization, since I don’t pirate, but rather a point of fact.)

    But, again, let’s be honest. The best connoisseurs of games out there are pirates. Journalists may pretend to be, but they’re paid to play games. A nutcase who volunteers to play everything that comes out? That’s your neighborhood pirate. You’re never gonna get his dollar. But his opinion can be worth sales.

    And yes, when I was a kid, I pirated like a fiend. Tons of free time and not much money = avast ye scurvy developers! Back then I bought what I could, and pirated the rest. Now I buy my games.

    So, in short: you’re gonna eat a lot of piracy. Those aren’t lost sales, so don’t worry about it. The trick is figuring out how to target to the market segment that _doesn’t_ pirate. Here’s some ideas: pirates have a high game metabolism. Most of them they play for a very short time, then toss for the next. Does adding new content, say, half a year down the road spike sales?

    I do like the long demo aspect. If most pirates are going to play it for a day or so, why not give ’em that content? It worked for Doom I and Duke Nukem Forever, didn’t it?

    BTW, can’t Positech’s games be had on Stardock Impulse?

  6. Alex says:

    Kudos to mr. Harris, for actually trying to talk to the pirates and ofcourse for listening to them. I hope this’ll bump his sales.

  7. Chiablo says:

    How to beat piracy:
    1. Multiplayer worth playing (Call of Duty 4)
    2. Require online authentication, even for single player. If you don’t have internet access, you cannot play. To prevent people from bypassing it, host critical files on the online server.
    3. Trust your customers and do away with DRM all together (Sins of a Solar Empire, Gal Civ 2)

  8. A-Scale says:

    Even most pirates have consciences, it just happens that $60 dollar price tags on games produced by big production houses and even $20 dollar games produced by smaller houses appear to cost too much in their eyes. I sincerely doubt the Sam and Max games are pirated nearly as frequently as other games in the point and click adventure genre with higher price tags. When you see a game that you know you will enjoy, and the price is 8.95, something deep inside you rumbles and tells you to buy it.

    Also, I believe that many people pirate games which they are uncertain of the quality of. Demos only partially alleviate this problem, as they are often not representative of the content of the rest of the game.

    2. Require online authentication, even for single player. If you don’t have internet access, you cannot play. To prevent people from bypassing it, host critical files on the online server.

    That’s a terrible idea. What if I want to play when my internet is down (this happened many times in the past with Steam and shoddy Comcast service), or on the road on a laptop, or after the developer goes down in flames or stops supporting the game?

  9. Robin says:

    I’m not sure completely dropping DRM is wise. But I don’t know how Cliffski’s potential audience are likely to behave. In my experience the vast majority of people looking for games online just want to graze from one free thing to the next. I suspect the Kudos audience overlaps with The Sims, one of the most heavily casually pirated games ever. And Cliff’s games can’t easily exploit the retail gift market for expansion packs either.

    Making casual piracy slightly less convenient may be enough to tip the balance. There’s also the psychological element of knowing your transaction is recorded somewhere in case of future problems. This is probably why virtually all online purchases use some kind of (usually off-the-peg) DRM. Not bloated, not fiddly to use, just an activation code and then you can play the game on all your computers forever.

    Yes, great, Stardock don’t, but they have a slavish audience of strategy nerds and games aren’t even their main business. Is Cliff’s core audience big enough and reliable enough to risk throwing lots more newcomers away?

  10. Tikey says:

    @Chiablo: isn’t point 2 and 3 a little contradictory?

  11. Radiant says:

    Looking into my trusty crystal ball I don’t think Kudos 2 will be pirated to the same extent as an assassin’s creed or bioshock.
    Simply because it isn’t on your average pirates radar.

    That’s not a slight on it’s quality.
    Far from it.

    It’s the same reason why something as fantastic as Armageddon Empires has never been passed around on torrents.

    But saying that it would be interesting to find out why WoW isn’t massively [hoho] torrented or why RedLynx’s Trials 2 hasn’t been tea leafed to any great extent.

    Those two games both have an online component but they [the online bits] are vastly different to each other.

    Imagine your selling a Go-Kart out in the open with just a for sale sign for protection.
    It’s going to get stolen regardless of the price on the ticket.
    But if you sell a kart for use at your track where all the other people are playing?

    Yeah I totally could have thought up a less convoluted analogy; sorry about that.

  12. Lh'owon says:

    @Tikey: I don’t think he knows what DRM constitutes. Let’s implement draconian DRM measures and also get rid of DRM to please the players! It’s win-win!

  13. Zarniwoop says:

    I’m not sure how DRM has ever worked. Either a game gets released with DRM and a team of hackers have it cracked in a matter of hours, or a game gets released. Either way the game is always available illegally. The only example of where this hasn’t quite worked which I can think of is with Valve games, and that’s due to all the benefits of the Steam system making the games worth purchasing.

    Also it’s a little wrong of Mr Walker to call the Radiohead download ‘weak’. AFAIK, they made more money in the space of time that the new album was available as a download than with any of their other albums in the same space of time, and only stopped it in order to not undercut their new record deal with XL. (They only did it to prevent sales losses from otherwise-leaked copies anyway, as which happened with their previous album.)

  14. Xyzzy says:

    The thing the bigger developers need to understand is that if they have DRM (especially harsh DRM) and people actually buy the games, they would just crack the game anyway so as not to give themselves a headache. Think of it as digital aspirin. Flight Simulator X comes to mind here.

    Although I wish the one I got for Battlefront II (which I bought, don’t complain) worked, since the 1.1 patch refuses to run, giving me a “please insert original CD/DVD” message. I want to play it online dammit!

  15. omicron1 says:

    I say that having no DRM will only work for as long as it’s “new,” “unique,” or “different” to be DRM-free. GalCivs 2 etc. were highly praised because of their lack of draconian DRM, but when nobody (or very few people) have DRM we’ll be back to an even playing field. And considering that piracy first spawned in a DRM-free environment, things will just go back to piracy-as-usual.

  16. mr crater says:

    Handled an important and sensitive issue (to him) calmly, excellent. I think he was a bit dismissive about point one though; an IP system that amounts to owning a number is very silly on the face of it, even though it generally works. Pirating games is no way change the system in any case.

  17. noname says:

    To be honest, most of the people pirating games have no intentions whatsoever to ever buy the game no matter how good. Just about all my friends download their games on pc and xbox. For example they have been playing CoD4 on cracked servers since the release and they all just love the game. And damn those guys have jobs and get paid quite ok, but for some reason they still refuse to buy games. I have to say I don’t understand them at all. They say games cost too much but then go on and get drunk on weekends and spend hundreds of euros on bars.

    I myself am unemployed but still manage to save up enough cash for 1 or 2 games per month on average for my xbox and if my gaming rig would be up to date I could buy maybe even 3 games per month since pc games are 10-20 euros cheaper than xbox games.

  18. Caiman says:

    That was an interesting exercise that yielded some insights. These days I would never pirate anything, I just only ever buy the really good stuff that comes around perhaps twice a year. When I was young, at school, I certainly did pirate ZX Spectrum games. We ALL did. However, I (and most of my other friends) also bought the really good stuff. We’d all stand in line to buy separate copies of things like Tir Na Nog or Elite because we wanted to own it, glossy packaging and all.

    So little has changed for me. I’ve only ever paid money for the good quality games that I really want. I certainly don’t justify piracy, but when you’re 12 years old you just want to try everything out anyway. There were certainly examples where I went out and bought games that I’d pirated because they turned out to be far better than I thought. But they were 4 pounds 95 pence.

    It all boiled down to quality, innovative and exciting games. These days it all just washes over you like having 250 cable channels of dross. Indie developers get far more of my money now for the same reason that I watch the Sundance festival more keenly than the Oscars.

  19. Frank says:

    Seconding Dinger.

  20. meeper says:

    I find it interesting that most of cliff’s findings have their roots in technology. For me and some of my friends (even for my wife), piracy was a learned behavior from our parents. We grew up in the days of traded 5 1/4″ disks and thought nothing of copying a game for a friend. Simply put, this was part of growing up for us.

    Sure, our parents failed us by letting us get away with it/encouraging it, but the technology was new at the time and not many people really understood that copying software was illegal. I personally stopped pirating when I realized that it had the potential to hurt the games I loved (it’s likely been over 15 years for me, though it took my wife years longer).

    I wonder how many of todays pirates are simply doing it because copying software was an acceptable act in their childhood. Or because their friends do it. I won’t go so far as to compare software piracy to the popular targets of peer pressure, but I strongly believe that piracy has more roots in psychology and habit than in technology.

  21. malkav11 says:

    Kudos (ha-ha) on cliffski for performing this little experiment. Gotta say he’s about the last person I would have expected to.

  22. Someone says:

    I pirate games and if I like them I buy them, simple as that.
    I pirated CnC3 when it came out and I liked it, so I bought it and played multiplayer too.

    I liked Oblivion after I downloaded it so I bought it and checked out some mods.

  23. aegix says:

    You can’t get money out of people who aren’t willing to pay when they can get the same thing for free. All these other reasons like “trying out the game”, “avoiding DRM”, etc are all tangential. It’s nice that they’re being addressed for those of us who DO buy games, but honestly I doubt it will make any real impact on piracy rates. Free beats any price.

  24. Jetsetlemming says:

    I’ve never played or pirated a single one of Cliffski’s games, and have in fact never even heard of them. *shrug*

    I’ll freely admit to pirating occasionally, past and present, and for two reasons:
    1) Unavailability. I don’t think most people care about downloading a game you simply CANNOT BUY, and if you do, well, fuck you. Stuff like games not released in your country, games released two decades ago, etc. Buying a used PC game on Ebay is not a legit option. Pretty much everything I’ve ever downloaded falls squarely under this category- if I can buy a game I want, I absolutely will.
    2) DRM. Only in the case of stuff like how Bioshock was on launch (though I didn’t because my computer can’t even run that), and Starforce. I also crack games I own to avoid CD checks because that shit’s just annoying.

    The demo point on the blog is interesting. I’m a proponent of good demos- if you’ve annoyed the player at the end, I know personally I’m less inclined to pay and more inclined to go play something else. This happened to me with Mount and Blade- I was liking it a lot until I hit level 6 less than 20 minutes after starting it and the game said “Go pay” and dropped me to my desktop instantly. Huge turnoff. I wish more games would go by the Duke 3d/Quake/Doom style huge shareware chapter style. Now THAT’S a demo.

  25. anonymous says:

    I think the complete removal of DRM is a mistake.
    I believe it was popcap who did a study several months ago about how piracy levels were affected by the types of DRM they included.

    A simple entering of a CD-Key upon initial install of a program (that was unique to that game) was proven to significantly boost sales and guard against people who would pay for the game but were too lazy to. It’s also so minor it’s hard to call it DRM, more like initial authentication. I don’t think you will find a single person here who believes it is unreasonable to enter a cd-key on initial install.

    Also while I generally agree that if you don’t like it you shouldn’t pirate it instead of buying it. COD4 is a real sorepoint for me living in Australia. it is availible on steam for $50? US (I’m guessing here) approximately $55 aud, but if you life in australia it costs $90 Aud (approx $85 USD).

    I want to play this game and I am willing to pay a reasonable amount for it. say 10% above what it costs in the states, how would you categorise the SIGNIFICANT price difference? It’s verging on either blatant profiteering or racism? When I am faced with a situation like this I stop thinking about morals and start taking it as a personal affront. Fuck you I’ll pirate your game now just to piss you off after you dissed me like that.

  26. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    We’ve already been three ways about North since the last time piracy was up for discussion, so I’m not entirely sure what else there is to say other than “Good luck, Cliffski.”

    Come to think of it, I sort of expected him to have already dropped by. Maybe he’s compiling that raw data we’d like to see. Or, you know, developing games.

  27. cliffski says:

    I’m busy trying to get my crappy webhost to stay up during its second slashdotting…
    And working on Kudos 2, obviously!

  28. Gap Gen says:

    On the point of self-pricing: Ben There, Dan That did this, and approximately 0.2% of people paid anything at all.

  29. Alarik says:

    Regarding DRM – I also don’t consider CD key od some file token to be a form of DRM. In fact, I like it – as a sort of “proof of purchase” – to have CD key :-) Though it could be more difficult for developer to have to maintain database of users and their CD keys?

  30. Freelancepolice says:

    When is kudos 2 due anyway? I bought democracy 2 at the weekend, hello!

  31. Cooper says:

    Hooray for substantial demos.

    The marketing voice is wrong. If a demo cuts out before I feel I know what the game is about (give me -at least- a good hours worth of gameplay, not just tutorial) I’m just not going to bother even thinking about buying. Tank Universal was a recent game i bought on merit of the demo, as was aquaria – which has a substantial demo (a good 2+ hours of the game was included)

    It may just be me, but I remember being able to milk demos for all they were worth when I was a kid. I played the Theme Park demo over and over, until I eventually saved enough to buy the game.

  32. UnSub says:

    While it’s an interesting idea to ask people why they pirate games, I don’t know if people can honestly answer such questions without throwing in a heap of self-justification along with it.

    Price is a big issue, but if you can’t afford it, why should you have it? Why is it right to pirate an entire game just to give it a test run (better demos are a good idea, of course, but demos will always be too short for some people)? How beneficial is it to players really to avoid DRM by downloading pirated files that might be full of viruses / trojans? And are players talking about the same things when they talk about DRM (and suspect they aren’t, especially when Steam can be considered to have a large DRM function)?

    Good luck to Cliffski, but I think you’re getting the reasons that people justify their piracy with, not ways you are going to reduce it for your work.

  33. cHeal says:

    Well done for getting rid of the DRM. I have boycotted a number of games because of DRM (I haven’t pirated either) and I do plan on picking up Democracy 2 if I find it retail.

  34. John Walker says:

    Zarniwoop – you’ve kind of given the reasons for why I called it weak. They absolutely didn’t do it out of any understanding of the principle, or they certainly wouldn’t have stopped it because of signing to a record label. Secondly, their motive was as a means to get around leaks, rather than out of respect for their audience.

    Compare that to Girl Talk, who has released his album under the Creative Commons, and leaves it up there. Or better, Negativland, who release their albums under the CC, offer them for sale on their website, but also support your right to download their work via P2P.

    GapGen – ZombieCow didn’t do it that way. They had a free download, and a separate donate button. And their donate button is disparaging about itself. If when you clicked “download”, it then put up a box asking how much you wanted to pay for it (with a subtle hint like, “$5 will get you a bonus X, and $10 will get you a boxed copy and poster”), then it would be an interesting test of the scheme. I think some people are often unwilling to enter 0 once it’s on them.

  35. Bobsy says:

    Muchos respect towards Cliffski and Positech. I look forward to seeing the results of this move, though I can’t say I’m fully confident on every point. I agree with Walker about using a price tag as an indicator of quality, though there are of course limits. $20 seems pretty reasonable to me, especially if, as I think Positech products have done so far, it can be demonstrated that the money’s gone to good use.

    I played the demo of Democracy 2 the other day, and was generally impressed, although not with the length (cutting out before you get to see any of the results of your actions come to fruition denies the player from sampling an important part of the product).

  36. Valentin Galea says:

    I don’t think Cliff Harris is in the position to really ask this question.

    His games are way to niche (or clones – that End of the world is direct Katamari ripoff, granted at least is on PC) for piracy to really matter in his case.

    I mean he can lower the price whatever he likes, i still think Kudos is a bad idea of a game:)

    Simple online activation – without securom crap – is the way to go. Think Quake3:)

  37. brog says:

    Nice work, Mr. Cliffski. These results are very interesting to read, and if ever I want to sell a game I’ll be making use of what you’ve learned. Thanks.

  38. sinister agent says:

    2. Require online authentication, even for single player. If you don’t have internet access, you cannot play. To prevent people from bypassing it, host critical files on the online server.
    3. Trust your customers and do away with DRM all together (Sins of a Solar Empire, Gal Civ 2)

    As some others have said, these are contradictory, and in the case of number 2, a terrible idea that will inconvenience legitimate buyers (and make it impossible for some) and not make any difference to piracy. You can easily get a pirate copy of ‘unlocked’ games that legitimate buyers have to authenticate. That includes Steam games.

    I would not buy any game that required online authentication to play offline.

    A very respectful tip of the hat to Mr. Harris. It will be interesting to see what comes of this, and I wish him the best of luck.

  39. AbyssUK says:

    Good work Cliffski, instead of labelling all the pirates as free loders like most devs your realising they are just normal people like you and me.

    Bigger better demos are a major point for me, also release them at the same time as the full version! (if this holds up the full version so be it) No point at all releasing a demo after you’ve released your games as people have already pirated them…I mean come on who buys trainers/shoes off the internet!, you have to try them on first and as for companies who don’t release demos at all… even if you’ve made the best game in the world people will pirate it first to give it a try.

    Online activation of any sort is bad.. it’s like having to put your hand up to goto the toilet… stop it.

  40. Dexton says:

    Make the games cheaper and easier to get (remove CD requirements, fast digital downloads, no DRM) and people will buy them instead of pirating. Also make them worth paying money for and try to get your legit copy onto the distribution services and in the shops before they reach the p2p scene.

    I am still surprised and a little angry that I get faster download speeds (max my line can handle) from well seeded torrent communities that I ever have had from Steam, the Blizzard downloader or any legitimate digital distribution service, where I am lucky to get half my bandwidth used.

  41. Colthor says:

    Good show, Cliffski!

    2. Require online authentication, even for single player…
    That will guarantee I don’t buy your game, no matter how much I want it. Purely on the principle of the thing. I might even pirate it out of spite, if you’ve particularly annoyed me.

    I hope EA notice this and follow suit; I’d happily buy Mass Effect and probably Spore without the online check.

  42. bonuswavepilot says:

    Another angle on your point about pirating when a game is unavailable is that of censored versions. GTA IV had a different version released here in Australia, for example, as will Fallout 3.
    I wonder how much such an aspect drives up the piracy of the US version? I’d certainly be less inclined to purchase something if I thought it had been bowdlerised for my mental safety. (But then censorship is one of those issues that brings out the soapbox lecturer in me)

    Granted you could probably still purchase it by just buying a US copy online and importing the thing, but every hurdle to paying for the commercial version makes the piracy more likely. This is one of the self-defeating aspects of DRM, as well – that everything that makes it more inconvenient to use your software legitimately makes the pirated version with its DRM removed more attractive by comparison.

    I remember installing Half-Life 2 at a time when I had a slow ‘Net connection. All the DRM shite during install made it take hours (copy, decrypt, verify, download, download, download…). I loved the game itself once I finally got there, but the anticipation made the install delay agonising.

  43. Lorc says:

    I am impressed both by the gesture, and by the willingness to question his practices and opinions.

  44. aldo says:

    I’m perfectly happy to enter a CD-key (in terms of DRM), but find stuff like SecureROM or (particularly) Starforce to be very offputting – to the extent that it puts me off buying or playing certain games (notably the old copies of both Trackmania games, and Far Cry).

    I’d personally prefer to have online authentication (if we’re to have any atall, of course) to be limited to once on-install, solely so as to be used to allow play without a DVD in the drive.

  45. Matt says:

    “the only oneI can think of is with Valve games, and that’s due to all the benefits of the Steam system making the games worth purchasing.”

    All the valve games are fully cracked aswell (or at least the single player ones are) however I don’t know how fast they got cracked in relation to their release.

    Infact, as an experiment, when l4d is released I’ll see how long it takes until a fully cracked version is out, this should give some idea of how effective steam really is. Although valve have constantly said it’s 0 day piracy free (Which is true) and isn’t really designed to fully prevent piracy.

    (NB: I would check this in the same way anyone with google could check it).

  46. Cooper says:

    Neither Steam nor anything else will ever stop piracy, or even significantly delay it. Steam does two things right though – no day one piracy and an easy to use, safe system that a very large proportion of PC Gamers are chuffed with.

    As Clifski has admirally shown – it’s not about trying to halt piracy, or even to slow it beyond the first day – but making sure that you’re providing the kind of service consumers want no longer makes piracy more attractive than buying.

  47. Leelad says:

    More like Rolf Harris talks to the Kangaroos


    I’m on wit level 11 today!!! OWWWW

  48. Kris says:

    Good luck cliff, though I do think much of the pirate feedback is justification rather than reasons. However (Mr Walkers point?) about devaluing of price points seems to me a very valid concern. Perhaps offering refunds to people not satisfied with the quality of a game would help. This way people get to judge the value post play rather than aking a punt based on a demo, blind faith or hype?

  49. Gap Gen says:

    John W – Ah, I see. Maybe with a picture of the development team dressed in rags and covered in dirt, programming in a snow-filled room with only a single candle for warmth and light.

  50. EyeMessiah says:

    I can’t imagine people downloading even expanded demos when they can just torrent the full game. There just doesn’t seem to be much of an advantage there. Sure its legal, but if one thing is clear its that pirates aren’t much worried about that!

    Also, I don’t believe that the “usher us into the magical la-la-land of free games” crowd are statistically significant, or worth a metnion. I think Joe Pirate pirates for much simpler reasons.

    @UnSub All interesting questions, but I don’t think they have any bearing on the practical problem of reducing piracy. What we are dealing with is a technological situation that a certain proportion of people *will* exploit, if exploitation is the path of least resistance. We can discuss their “reasons”, and the moral dimensions until the end of time, but at the end of the day 99% of them will still go home and play pirated games, because its easier than buying them and there are no consequences.

    I don’t forsee any change to this state of affairs unless the underlying technology changes in a fairly radical, and probably horrifying way (ala something like TCPA ).